Designer Training Materials


The Mustard Seed is dedicated to providing you with the most progressive and up-to-date services and materials.  We focus on providing you the best value in your landscaping, not the lowest price.  We have two resounding philosophies:  First, we firmly believe “you get what you pay for” and second, “if you aren’t going to do it right, it’s better to not do it at all!”  This is not to say we aren’t competitively priced, in fact, with our buying power, we can often sell you better plants and materials at or below our competitors price on inferior products.  We sell only healthy, superior quality, plants and supplies!  When we install your landscape, whether it’s one tree or an entire home, we do it with pride.  We know that you will get the best materials and supplies available and that they will withstand the test of time.  We know that you will be happy not only at the time of completion but twenty years down the road as well!

Landscaping is a competitive market.  We know we must be competitively priced on everything we sell.  It is our intention to save you money everywhere we can but at the same time use the quality of plants and materials you deserve.  We promise you we will not sacrifice the quality of your project just to sell you the job.  Purchasing your landscaping from The Mustard Seed will be an excellent investment.  The following items are things we consider vitally important to the quality and longevity of your landscape project.

Plant Material:  We strive to sell only Minnesota Hardy plant material.  If a plant is marginally hardy or needs extra care, we will inform you of this before we sell you that plant.  Our plants are specially adapted to growing in clay soil.  This is especially important with Balled in Burlap trees—if they aren’t grown in clay, the percentage of loss is nearly double, and if they do live, they tend to look poor for many years while they adapt to the clay.  Trees grown in other soils mature faster and thus may be less expensive, but the savings are not justifiable if they do poorly or die.  Our potted plants are grown in a specially designed soil and have a 1-2 yr. slow release fertilizer right in the mix.  Our amendment package of Peat, 100% Manure, Transplant Root Stimulator and Slow Release Fertilizer produces dynamic root regeneration and greater transplant survivability!  If you have clay soil, we strongly recommend you do not purchase bare-root plant material—our experience has shown that up to 50% may die when planted in clay.

Landscape Edging:  We sell only Cobra Hi-Test landscape edging.  This is the “World’s Best” edging.  It is the industry’s heaviest piece of edging and is fully guaranteed against cracking or lifting out of the ground—and it doesn’t require stakes.  This edging is so good, it’s patented!  There are many grades of Cobra edging, with a wholesale cost differential of over 900%, so be careful to specify Cobra Hi-Test.

Landscape Weed Barrier:  The Mustard Seed installs only DeWitt Pro 5 weed barrier-it’s the best!  It is a full 5.0 ounce woven, needle-punched polypropylene fabric that has been proven in field trials to be the best weed preventative fabric available.  It is U.V. resistant and will last you as long as you own your home!  We recommend weed barrier under rock mulches only.  Using weed barrier under shredded hardwood mulch takes away the soil improvement benefits the mulch provides. We will not use plastic in a landscape bed, unless you have a water problem, because it suffocates the soil and will not let moisture, nutrients, and oxygen penetrate the soil like fabric will.

Mulches:  When it comes to wood mulch products, The Mustard Seed installs only mulches that come from healthy trees forested for timber, not diseased trees like others may sell.  Our wood mulches will not transfer diseases to your soil or plants.  Our rock mulches are all screen-cleaned or washed, not “pit run.”  We install all mulches 3”-4” deep, not 1”-2” deep—this may mean you get 50% more material from The Mustard Seed!

Service and Selection:  The Mustard Seed has a Registered Landscape Architect, multiple Certified Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Professionals, and qualified Garden Center sales people to help you.  We have over five acres of trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials to choose from—all available for your personal selection!  We offer high quality at a fair price and we have the knowledge and ability to do the job right!  For more information on our company, check us out at

“Rooted in integrity and founded on faith”

Designer Training

QuickBooks or estimating program

●     Planting (See Handout)

o     Amendments (Handout)

o     Plant charges

o     Special Circumstances (rock, hill, limited access)

●     Maintenance (See Handout)

o     How it is structured

o     What is included

o     Initial clean up

●     Patios (See Handout)

o     What is included

▪      6” base, fabric, standard pavers or Chilton

o     Not included

▪      bobcat, extra base, snap edging, or upgraded stone, lawn repair

o     Access

●     Retaining Walls (See Handout)

o     Boulder

o     Modular

o     Natural Stone

●     Calculations

o     Mulch 3-4” deep: 1yd = 80sq. ft.

o     Rock: 1yd = 100sq.ft.

o     Sod: sq. ft. needed divided by 9 = # of Sq. Yards

o     Soil: 1 yard fills 100 Sq. ft. at 3 inches thick

●     Equipment Uses (See Handout)

o     Bobcats sizes & time required

o     Gator – time required

o     Load & Haul

●     Small Equipment

o     Wheeling is utilized when a bobcat/gator does not have access and the distance is greater than 60 feet

●     Night Lighting (See Handout)

o     Basic

o     Watts

o     LED vs Halogen

o     Runs

o     Wire diagram (plan with wires drawn up)

●     Water Features

o     Basics

o     Sizes

o     Equipment

o     Can vary dramatically. Contact your design manager to go over details of water features on a case by case basis

●     Trimming

o     Shrubs – Hourly rates & dump fee

o     Trees should be under 8’ or call subcontractor

●     Clean Up

o     Hourly - Time and material

o     Dump Fee

●     Removal and Dump fee

o     Rock – 100 Sq. ft. / Yard   

o     Mulch – 80 Sq. ft. / Yard

o     Sod – 100 Sq. ft. / Yard

o     Plants

o     Weed

o     Dump Fee

▪      How many will fit in a 1 yard bucket

▪      Up to 12 yards per truck for plants and mulch

▪      5 yards per truck for rock, concrete or stone

●     Drain Tile Work

o     Equipment required

o     Parts

o     Removal/Dump Fees

●     City Restrictions

o     Cannot leave bulk goods in street in Carver without permit

o     Call city office for rules and regulations

o     Fire pits are required to be 25ft away from any flammable part of the house

●     Estimates (Handouts)

o     Practice I

o     Practice II

o     Practice III

●     Shadowing

o     3 or more jobs where the designer shadows the design manager and/or partner

o     3 or more jobs where the design manager and/or partner shadows the designer


●     Appointments on line via website/Acuity scheduling.

●     Set up your availability through acuity website and google calendar.

●     Meet your designer Bio Sent through constant contact by Eric.

●     Contact Customer asap to verify your appointment time, day, address etc.

●     Leads other than online not through website/Acuity appointments.

o     Call within 24hrs (excluding Sunday) leave message if contact is not made on first attempt

o     Within the next 24hrs call and leave another message with all your contact information.

o     3rd attempt made within 36 hours if contact still has not been made leave a final message saying nicely that you will not be contacting them anymore

▪      Example: This is John Doe from The Mustard Seed. I don’t want to be a pest or bother to you, so if you would still like to talk to a designer please contact me at (***)***-**** Thanks for your time

First Appointment

●     Appointment Procedure

o     Be at least 5 minutes early

o     If being close on time call ahead let them know

o     Look presentable

o     Collect design fee if required

o     Set appointment for presentation

o     Measure and take pictures

●     Suggested Checklist

o     Irrigation

o     Rock or mulch

o     Edging (take measurements)

o     Hills or restricted access (take measurements)

o     Maintenance requirements

o     Colors like or dislike

o     Plants they like or dislike

o     Utilities

o     Sun or shade

Design fee

●     Design fee rebate

Delivery and Travel fees-Zones 3&4

●     Zone 1

o      Chanhassen, Chaska, Eden Prairie, Carver

●     Zone 2

Bloomington, Cologne, Deep haven, Edina, Excelsior, Greenwood, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Minnetonka Beach, Minneapolis (S of 50th), Prior Lake N of Hwy 13, Richfield, Shakopee, Shorewood, St. Louis Park, Tonka Bay, Victoria, Waconia.

●     Zone 3

o      Burnsville, Crystal, Golden Valley, Jordan, Long Lake, Mayer, Medina, Mendota, Mendota Heights, Minnetrista, Mound, Minneapolis (No. of 50th), New Hope, Norwood Young America, Orono, Osseo, Plato, Plymouth, Prior Lake S of Hwy 13, Robbinsdale, Savage S of CO42, Spring Park, Wayzata.

●     Zone 4

o      Anoka, Apple Valley, Arden Hills, Belle Plaine, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Columbia Heights, Coon Rapids, Corcoran, Delano, Eagan, Elko, Falcon Heights, Farmington, Fridley, Hilltop, Inver Grove Hts., Lakeville, Lauderdale, Lilydale, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Moundsview, New Brighton, Rogers, Rosemount, Roseville, Shoreview, Spring Lake Park, St. Anthony, St. Bonifacious, St. Paul, Watertown America

●     Mobilization for any project under $5000 and designer needs to be present at start of job.

●     Delivery charge for mulch and rock under 4 yards whether delivered or installed.

The Sale

●     Payment options

o     Under $3000 payment in full in advance

o     Over $3000 check 50% down payment balance due the day of completion

o     Over $3000 using a credit card requires prepayment in full with card swipe at garden center

o     Include drawing, signed contract & any subcontractor forms

o     Discuss

After Sale

●     Put orders in Landscape Office landscape jobs file

●     Must have drawing, signed contract, and any subcontractor forms

●     Accepted and job is processed

●     Job is scheduled

●     Contacting utilities - Designer

●     Irrigation

Day of the Job

●     Meet foreman at garden center at whatever time is decided (Call foreman the night before if needed)

●     Have the crew follow you to jobsite

●     Introduce foreman and crew to homeowner and let them know he/she will do a walk around with them when the job is complete to ensure they are happy with the project and he will then collect the balance due if any and have customer sign the work order

●     Then go over the project line item by line item with the foreman

●     Mark bed lines

●     Place all plants when it works best for everyone

●     Follow up with Foreman on install, how it's going and if there are questions or issues.

Follow up with customer the day after the project is done to ensure they are happy and go over questions on maintaining their new landscape and follow up within 1 month of project being completed

Forms (handouts)

●     Commission report

●     Why The Mustard Seed is your best value

●     Sub-contractor

●     Warranty information

●     Accessing through neighbors

●     Hard good suppliers

●     Green good suppliers

●     Planting maintenance/instructions

●     List of our online resources?

●     General guidelines chart for dump fee

●     Inspection reports - Warranty Replacements

●     (Others?)

Training on website

●     Online Consultation Appointments

●     Resource page

●     Bios

●     Portfolios

●     Plant search


The hole dug for new plants should be at least twice the size of the container in width and the same depth as the top of the roots (w/o bed prep)


Combining 100% Composted Manure, Sphagnum Peat, Transplant Root Stimulator and Osmocote + Minors with approximately 1/3 of the existing soil will result in optimum root growth and plant health.  Use the following ratio:

·         1 - 40# bag of manure per 6 shrubs (or 2 per B&B tree)

·         1 - 1cu. ft. peat moss per 12 shrubs (or each B&B tree)

·         1-pound Transplant per bag of manure (approx. ¼ cup per shrub)

·         1/2 pound Osmocote per bag of manure (approx. ⅛ cup/shrub)

Bed Prep

·         This is only included when all amendments tilled into soil pre-planting


·         Cost determined by container size, diameter of B&B tree, or height of B&B evergreens and clump trees

·         Special labor circumstances

o   Rock mulch is 1.5x normal cost

o   Hillside is 1.5x normal cost

o   Limited access; gate, anything that restricts easy access

o   Wheeling charges

·         Balled and Burlap

o   Root balls may weigh 600-1200+lbs

o   Need more than 4ft or charge additionally


Wheeling is utilized when bobcat/gator does not have access and the distance is greater than 60ft

Patios and boulder walls

Use the two larger bobcats (185 or S250)

Heavy pallets will require S250 bobcat

Mulch; use small bobcat (463) and gator if needed and have access

Anything heavier than mulch use 185 or S250

Add bobcat anytime more than 4 yards of any product is used

One load and haul fee required for each piece of equipment per job

Lawn repair is not included, use plywood if needed


Maintenance package is figured by the overall sq ft of area being maintained by our services

Does not include mulch, chemical applications, fall leave clean up (but can be added)

Any add-on’s will need a separate contract. Additional Labor/Tasks can be done from the time allotted from original contract.

In normal situation a separate estimate should be done for initial clean up

All packages must be paid in full before they start

All packages are customizable

Dump fee

Add dump fee for any additional disposal of anything other than normal debris from weeding or minor pruning

How many will fit in a 1 yard bucket

Up to 12 yards per truck for plants and mulch

5 yards per truck for rock concrete or stone